Hawthorn trees added to landscape at Carnegie Museum

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Bent and bowed cherry trees planted 40 years ago at Carnegie Museum of Art are being removed this month and replaced by a dozen 'Winter King' hawthorns, marking the first phase of a three-part plan to enhance the landscape, walkways and paths at the Oakland building's back entrance and parking lot.

Eichenlaub Inc. is also removing yews that line parking lot paths and walkways. In the spring, those shrubs will be replaced with new plants, said Jonathan Gaugler, a museum spokesman.

The cherry trees were not indigenous to southwestern Pennsylvania and suffered damage during a number of harsh winters, including a record snowfall in February 2010, Mr. Gaugler said. Although the trees are at the rear of the art museum, it's a very visible spot because it's where "so many patrons of the museums and the library enter the building," Mr. Gaugler said.

Hawthorn trees were chosen partly because their pink spring blossoms are similar to those on cherry trees. This deciduous tree is much hardier and has three seasons of visual interest because it sprouts red berries and its leaves turn colors in the fall. The trees also fit into sustainable landscaping practices and thrive in Western Pennsylvania. The trees fit into the original landscape design because they will grow to the same height as the cherry trees and will not obstruct windows in the building.

The cost of the first phase, Mr. Gaugler said, is $140,000 and is being paid for out of funds designated to improve the grounds and improve the visitors' experience at the museum.

Through December, crews will remove cherry trees and yews. The next two phases of the project will involve improvements to sidewalks and paths around the back of the building plus the walkway and greenery around the parking lot elevators.

Marylynne Pitz: mpitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1648.

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